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Fantasy NASCAR: Hellman's 500 Quick Picks

Fantasy NASCAR Expert Brian Polking reveals his Yahoo, Fox and NASCAR.com quick picks to help you win your season-long league!

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Hellman's 500

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Yahoo: Top 30 Drivers

Yahoo / Fox / NASCAR: Quick Picks


The Sprint Cup Series visits Talladega Superspeedway this weekend, and no matter what the scoring system, setting a fantasy NASCAR lineup for a restrictor-plate event is always a challenge.

When it comes to the season-long games, the biggest challenge will come in the Yahoo game. The scoring system is based almost entirely on finishing position, and with multi-car wrecks routinely taking out big chunks of the field at Talladega, Sunday's race is one of the toughest of the year to predict.

On the plus side, Sunday's race is a perfect opportunity to save some starts from the big names in each tier if you are running low on starts this late in the season. At a track that is chaotic as Talladega, a lineup of sleepers has the same chance of success as a lineup full of big names. If you happen to have plenty of starts left from the top options, it doesn't hurt to use them.

In the NASCAR.com game, you can somewhat limit the potential damage by building a balanced lineup that focuses on the place differential category. There are routinely four to five drivers who gain 15-plus spots in races at Talladega, and drivers who start deeper in the field are both the safest and have the highest upside.

You can almost guarantee that at least one of your drivers will be caught up in a wreck, so if you pick a bunch of drivers starting up front, you could easily finish with a negative score and destroy a season's worth of hard work.

In the FOX game, you should be loading up your lineup with drivers starting deeper in the field. The best source of bonus points in this format is place differential, and Talladega is one of the friendliest tracks when it comes to drivers moving forward from where they start. You could end up posting your biggest point total of the season this weekend.

Check out a complete look at my season-long fantasy NASCAR lineups, and make sure to check out Sunday's Hellman's 500 from Talladega Superspeedway Sunday at 2:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Auto Racing

Brad Keselowski (A)

There is no such thing as a sure thing at Talladega, but there is little doubt that Keselowski gives me the best chance of picking up a win. He has won two of the three plate races this year, including the May event at Talladega. He also has three finishes of fourth or better in his last four starts here, and he is a four-time winner at the track overall.

Clint Bowyer (B)

Bowyer has been one of the most reliable plate track drivers for a while now. He has a series-high seven top 10s in the last ten races at Talladega, including an eighth-place run last fall and a seventh-place run in May. He also has a series-best eight top 10s in the last plate races overall.

Austin Dillon (B)

I have four starts left from Dillon, so I don't mind burning one up this weekend at Talladega. He ranks third in points scored in the last ten restrictor-plate events, logging nine top 15s in that span. In six career starts at Talladega, he has four top 15s, including a career-best third-place run in May.

Ryan Blaney (C)

I have enough starts left from Blaney to use him freely down the stretch, and I'd rather save Chase Elliott for an intermediate oval like Texas or Homestead. Plus, Blaney has two top 10s in four starts at Talladega, so he has legit upside.

NASCAR.com Fantasy Live

Kevin Harvick ($28.25)

Harvick has been one of the most consistent drivers at Talladega, and he brings a streak of six straight top 15s at the track into Sunday's race. He boasts excellent place differential numbers during that same span, and after qualifying 22nd, he should be able to add to his string of strong performances. Even if he wrecks, he starts deep enough in the field that he won't cripple my entire lineup. The same can’t be said for most of the other big names.

Kasey Kahne ($24.25)

His record at Talladega isn't overly impressive, but he has plenty of fantasy appeal after qualifying 27th. No driver with better equipment is starting deeper in the field, and his starting spot gives him a high ceiling and limited risk. With the place differential numbers heavily in his favor, I'll take a chance on Kahne.

A.J. Allmendinger ($15.50)

Most people only consider Allmendinger at road course events, but starting 32nd, he has a lot to gain and not much to lose in the all-important place differential category this weekend. He also has a decent record at Talladega recently, finishing 17th or better in four of his last six starts.

Clint Bowyer ($14.25)

Bowyer is one of the most dependable plate track drivers, and his value was further boosted by his 36th-place qualifying effort. He leads all drivers in top 10s in the last ten races at Talladega and the last ten plate track events overall, and he has nothing but upside in the place differential category. He has a great chance to be one of the top scorers, if not the No. 1 overall scorer.

David Ragan ($6.25)

Salary cap space wasn't an issue this weekend, but Ragan still makes sense from a strategical standpoint. He starts dead last, so at the very least, he isn't losing any points in the place differential category. Meanwhile, he is a former winner at Talladega and Daytona, so he has been known to deliver the occasional strong performance at the plate tracks. He could end up being one of the highest scorers, and he is one of the cheapest options available.

FOX Fantasy Auto Racing

Kevin Harvick ($13,100)

Among the title contenders, Harvick has the most to gain in the place differential category after qualifying 22nd. He also has six straight top 15s at Talladega, gaining more than 12 spots on average during that same span. He has one of the safest floors this weekend, and his ceiling is plenty high, as well.

Kyle Larson ($9,500)

His record at restrictor-plate tracks is a mixed bag, but with two top 10s in three plate track races this season, his upside speaks for itself. Starting 24th, Larson has a high ceiling through place differential and the potential to top 50 fantasy points.

Jamie McMurray ($8,600)

Despite his all-or-nothing record at Talladega, McMurray's 23rd-place qualifying run gives him too much upside to ignore. Two of his four restrictor-plate wins have come at Talladega, and if he adds to that total Sunday, he is going to top 60 fantasy points. There are very few active drivers with as many plate wins to their name.

Clint Bowyer ($7,400)

Bowyer is probably the top pick in this format. He starts way back in 36th, but he has seven top 10s in his last ten starts at Talladega, including his seventh-place run in the spring. He could end up being the biggest mover and the top scorer this weekend. To top it off, his price tag won't break the bank.

A.J. Allmendinger ($7,300)

He is on the short list of drivers who are starting outside the top 30 who have proven top 15 potential at Talladega. Allmendinger has four finishes of 17th or better in his last six starts at the track, including a 14th-place run in May. A similar run Sunday would result in 15-plus bonus points and 40-plus fantasy points overall.


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